Good evening and thank you for joining Sports Mole for tonight’s match between two women with contrasting records at Flushing Meadows.
This is Suarez Navarro’s seventh US Open
and she has never previously reached the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, this is Serena’s 14th singles campaign at her home Grand Slam. She has won the event four times – in 1999, 2002, 2008 and 2012 – and has failed to reach the last eight on just three occasions.
These two women have met on two previous occasions in singles competition, both resulting in straight-sets victories for the American. Williams won 6-0 6-3 in the third round at the Australian Open in 2010 and then prevailed 6-2 6-0 in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters earlier this year.
Interestingly, these two also faced each other in round one of the women’s doubles at Flushing Meadows just four days ago. Serena and sister Venus, who were champions in 1999 and 2009, beat Suarez Navarro and fellow Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-7 6-0 6-3. The American siblings remain in the draw, having overcome seventh seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6-4 6-4 in round two on Saturday.
One could argue that Suarez Navarro might be a little fresher than Serena tonight due to the American’s continued involvement in the doubles. However, the top seed has only been on court for 290 minutes during her four singles matches so far, while the Spaniard’s four wins have taken 378 minutes.
PREDICTION: Suarez Navarro is five inches shorter and 18 pounds lighter than Serena. In my opinion, she will struggle to compete physically with the world number one, who I expect to stroll through efficiently in straight sets.
The bookmakers seem to share my opinion. Serena is a huge 1-33 favourite in most places. Meanwhile, Paddy Power are willing to offer a hefty 14-1 on Suarez Navarro winning the match. Paddy is also offering 6-1 on the Spaniard winning one set or more.
Day has become night in New York, where the floodlights are fully powered up and the players, who are slightly behind schedule, are due on court imminently.
Finally, after a brief delay, the players emerge onto court.
Both ladies were interviewed by ESPN as they made their way into the arena. Here is what they had to say...
Suarez Navarro, who is celebrating her 25th birthday today: "It's a special day, on a special court against a special player. I am very happy to be here."
Serena: "Carla is a really good player, who has had some really good wins and I won't be underestimating her."
The world number one wins the coin toss and elects to serve first.
The warm-ups are complete and Serena is poised to get us underway...
Ominous start for Suarez Navarro. Williams kicks off with an ace and then seals the next point with her third stroke of the rally - a crisp volley at the net. 30-0.
Serena serves up another ace, before Suarez Navarro goes long as the top seed holds to love.
Good response by Suarez Navarro, who wins a 10-shot exchange with a controlled forehand down the line. Williams then fires a return into the net. 30-0.
BREAK POINT WILLIAMS: The world number one switches up a gear and reels off three consecutive points courtesy of some meaty blows.
WILLIAMS BREAKS: The American attacks her opponent's forehand and is rewarded as it misfires to hand her an early break of serve.
Serena kicks off game three by registering her third ace of the night. She follows it up with a double fault, before quickly holding to 15 to move 3-0 ahead after just eight minutes of play.
WILLIAMS BREAKS: Serena annoys herself by firing a loose forehand well wide at 0-15. However, she quickly atones for her mistake by drawing a couple of errors out of Suarez Navarro's backhand. The Spaniard then double-faults the game away.
This is too easy for Serena. The defending champion holds to love again, meaning that she has now won 12 of service 13 points.
WILLIAMS BREAKS AND WINS OPENING SET: Just 19 minutes are on the clock as Serena wins game six to 15, donating an unwanted bagel to her opponent. The game ends with an unsuccessful challenge from Suarez Navarro, whose forehand was correctly called wide.
Serena hit 10 winners and made 2 unforced errors in that opening set, while Suarez Navarro produced one winner and four unforced errors.
Happy birthday Carla! Serena holds to 15 to begin set two as she ended set one.
WILLIAMS BREAKS: The American is kind enough to gift her opponent two game points. However, the Spaniard fails to convert either. Williams then slams a forehand winner cross court to bring about break point, which is converted when Suarez Navarro double-faults for the second time tonight.
Serena serves up her second double fault to give Suarez Navarro false hope at the start of game nine. The American then produces three stunning winners - two forehand and one backhand - before a demoralised Suarez Navarro strikes wayward.
WILLIAMS BREAKS: The double bagel looks inevitable as Serena breaks to 15 with ease.
BREAK POINT SUAREZ NAVARRO: Sloppy game from Serena, who adds to her unforced errors count with two uncharacteristically ugly forehands. 30-40 and a third game point for the Spaniard...
Serena holds. She saves break point with a terrific serve-and-volley move before screaming "COME ON" at the top of her lungs. She then immediately offers Suarez Navarro another chance to break by double faulting. However, the American swiftly regains her composure and reels off three quick points to move to within one game of victory.
GAME SET AND MATCH WILLIAMS: The birthday girl's 52-minute punishment is over as Serena wins her 53rd point of match and breaks to 15.
Suarez Navarro, who had just four game points in the entire match, won 18 points in total. She hit three winners and made 12 unforced errors.
Meanwhile, Williams, who will face Li Na in the semi-finals, produced 20 winners and nine unforced errors.
Both players double faulted three times, but Serena countered her errors by coming up with four aces, while Suarez Navarro did not ace once.
Speaking to host broadcaster ESPN, Williams attempts to defend her opponent's performance. "The conditions were so tough, so it was definitely not her best tennis today," says Serena, who goes on to joke that she is only able to cope with the difficult windy environment because she has played in New York for "like 50 years".
On her upcoming battle with China's Li Na, the world number one adds: "I think it'll be a great match. She's playing some of the best tennis of her career."
Let's hope for the fans' sake that it will be a great match. Tonight saw a great performance from Williams, but certainly not a great match.
Serena has won each of her last six meetings with the Chinese number one in straight sets, but, three in a row went the distance prior to that and Li even won one of them! Promising?
Anyway, that concludes Sports Mole
's live coverage of the US Open for tonight. I'll leave you with a link to our match report
. Good night.